Laura Whitcombe

How to keep your dog safe from thieves

Five dogs are stolen every day in the UK and only one gets reunited with its owner, according to police data analysed by insurer Direct Line. In 2016, there were 1,774 reported dog thefts, with just 21 per cent recovered. The number of thefts was up 19 per cent compared to 1,491 just two years earlier. However, these figures are likely just the tip of the iceberg – further research conducted by Direct Line found that 1.5 million people have had a dog stolen from them within the past five years. Of those bereft owners, nearly a quarter (23 per cent) said their pet was stolen from their garden, 11 per cent from their home and another 11 per cent while out on a walk. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier was the most stolen breed last year, according to police records. They accounted for 42 per cent of all stolen dogs between 2014 and 16, with the next two most stolen breeds the Chihuahua (9 per cent) and Jack Russell (7 per cent) respectively. However, there’s been a three-fold increase in the number of thefts of French Bulldogs over the same period, which has coincided with the breed becoming the UK’s dog of choice. Earlier this year, the popular pooches – as owned by the likes of David Beckham, Lady Gaga and Holly Willoughby and which now sell from £1,500 per puppy – knocked the humble Labrador Retriever off its top spot as Britain’s most bought breed, a title it had held for the previous 27 years. The UK capital is also the dog-nap capital, with the Metropolitan Police recording the highest number of dog thefts last year (231). West Yorkshire Police (208) and Greater Manchester Police (168) made up the rest of the top three theft locations. The regions with the fewest number of stolen dogs were North Wales (0), Northamptonshire (9) and Surrey (11).

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